Volunteer Blog: Social Media Affecting Body Image

Last month, Leila Malik, iSandwell Digital Champion for young persons health issues ran an open data campaign looking at what are the biggest issues young people face in Sandwell. Social media affecting body image can out on top by big margin.

In this blog Leila who is herself a young person based in Tipton, reflects on this issue. You can share your views on Twitter with the #iSandwell hashtag.

Social media plays a big part in our lives. It is such a great, easy way to connect with friends via electronic communication as well as keeping up to date with your favourite celebrities – it has many benefits with so little effort from the comfort of wherever you are. So, with having many benefits, can social media still be bad for us?

Research suggests that we are sacrificing too much of our mental-health, well-being as well as our time on social media, such a communication tool could be regarded as an ‘abstract presence’, which could potentially metaphorically be presenting the ‘effects of a drug’.

Social media can bring about countless different feelings and be the cause of several issues, for instance, depression, eating disorders as well as other health issues. An endless stream of stress is often resembled as an ‘aftereffect’ of social media. This is exposed through unimportant thoughts, such as how many likes you have on your media handle on a photo as compared to your friends. Although this type of reinforcement can build self-confidence, it can also destroy it!

Social media not only exposes young people to certain beauty standards but also develops different ways of perceiving what ‘beauty’ is. This way of perception contributes to the development of many health issues, whether it is depression or eating disorders and to begin disliking yourself aiming to be like others on social media. Research suggests that this does not just affect females but men too. The advertising of models being pretty, charming and ‘thin’ brings a sense of dissatisfaction to people with their own bodies -they are sending across the wrong message regarding what is acceptable and what is not.

There has always been a notion that models are a certain way such as slim and eye catching and has always been shown in the media. Before the progression of social media, television advertisements and billboard adverts were the way forward which meant that it was to promote products but as people are on their phone’s constantly for many hours a day, these images of being perfect and acceptable are popping up every other minute - this is a constant reminder of how todays idea of acceptable is. This is leading young people to damage their health by going on extreme diets to lose weight in order to look ‘good’. This also affects people mentally as they are irritable and desperate to fit in todays generation causing negative affects on the mind leading to depression.

Overall, Social media has many benefits, but does, indeed, have its drawbacks. Research clearly suggests that people who are on social media for more time are damaging their health both physically and mentally and to tackle this issue, people need to be educated on how social media use could be making them feel about themselves as social media use is correlated with depression, stress and anxiety.